ROBBY GORDON (No. 7 Jim Beam Dodge Charger) WHAT ARE YOU THOUGHTS ON THE PENALTY? "Well, I think I'm more than surprised at the severity of it to start with. Second would be the penalty in general because it was something we didn't build, we...
ROBBY GORDON (No. 7 Jim Beam Dodge Charger)
WHAT ARE YOU THOUGHTS ON THE PENALTY? "Well, I think I'm more than surprised at the severity of it to start with. Second would be the penalty in general because it was something we didn't build, we didn't make, we didn't supply. It was completely a clerical error from the manufacturer and the manufacturer's supply warehouse who delivered it to us and all we did was install it on the racecar. We're going to jail for a crime we didn't commit. It's almost like putting yourself in the position where someone steals your car, robs a bank and because it's your car, you're going to jail. I don't think this is a fair penalty and obviously we will have to appeal it. My sponsors, Jim Beam, and everybody else are behind us as a race team and feel that we have not done anything wrong and are confident NASCAR will make the right decision once they hear the whole appeal process and move forward from there."
GIVE US AN EXPLANATION ON HOW THE PART GOT DISTRIBUTED: "Because they have the same part numbers on the part, that's how they got distributed to us. This one has a dash at the end of it and we wouldn't know the difference. We went off the part number. The part numbers are the same. It was clearly a clerical error. I believe the parts warehouse was told by a representative of Dodge that part had been approved when he distributed it to us. Right now, today, I don't know how many of you guys know this, but we're actually running Avenger noses with Charger decals. NASCAR, for no reason whatsoever, has not approved the Charger nose yet. It's been submitted and it fits the same template. Even thought the part was changed before practice, it fit the template before it was changed. It was basically an indention of a detail line; there was no competitive advantage or intent to cheat or do anything like that. The penalty that was passed our obviously was as severe as mixing fuel or blatantly getting more wheel travel to have a performance advantage where that was not the case here with this situation. That's why we're going to appeal it."
DID IT EVER NOT FIT THE TEMPLATE? "No. It fit the template leaving our shop heading to the race track. It fit the template there (at NASCAR inspection station at Daytona). It was clearly a detail line at most. It's nothing, at the end of the day, that would be a performance advantage or anything like that."
WHAT IS DODGE TELLING YOU? "That they made a mistake and that they are willing to do whatever it takes. I believe (Chrysler Chairman and CEO Robert) Nardelli himself has even had a conversation with (NASCAR President Mike) Helton explaining the situation. Obviously, I have caused trouble in the past, but this time was not a causing trouble issue. It was clearly the amount of time to get ready to go to the racetrack and compete at the highest level which for us only having the car for five days before qualifying and qualifying as high as we did and racing as good as we did, it's a huge disappointment. We're obviously disappointed as a race team that has put us in this fashion and we should be focusing on the positives and now we're focusing on the negatives. It's a negative that has been dealt to us and what's really awkward is it is now putting us in a position where, publicly, we're out there on the edge because we're going to Atlanta with a car unsponsored. And NASCAR put us in a position, to the world, that (makes us ) looks like we're cheating. So now they're putting us in a severe business situation as well."
WAS THERE ANY WAY TO CHECK THE PART NUMBERS? "Like I said, it had a dash number at the end. If you read the part number, the part number is the same. I believe it had a dash-A at the end. Ours had a dash-A, but if you read the part number, the part numbers are the same. So that's another part of the confusion. It was clearly a clerical error. The whole thing again, there was no intent; there was no intent, no rhyme for the reason and the severity for the penalty just doesn't blow us away, it blows a lot of other crew chiefs in the garage away. They're very surprised that it is as steep as it it. The consistency is not there. I brought up in a conversation with Helton, take Tony and Kurt a year ago, that was a hundred points, a $100,000. Today, that's nothing and this is over the top. In my opinion, Daytona wasn't exciting enough, so they needed something to talk about this week."
WERE YOU SURPRISED WHEN YOU FIRST HEARD IT MIGHT BE THIS SEVERE? "I'll be honest here, as a mistake, I hate to lose any points, but I was kind of content with OK, well I guess if we get 25, that will drop us to 16th in the championship and we can probably deal with that. A hundred could be life threatening for our race team."
HOW DOES THIS AFFECT LOOKING FOR A SPONSOR, NOT BEING IN THE TOP 10? "With the appeal) I believe the points get reinstated, the crew chief gets reinstated. I see my crew chief (Frank Kerr) over there so obviously they got my letter and they approved that certain process of the appeal. This is new to me. We've never appealed anything. We've talked about appealing it, but we've never appealed any of the things in the past. We've taken our lumps and moved on. On this one here, obviously, we feel that we're getting done wrong and we're going to stand up for ourselves as a race team."
HAVE YOU FILED THE APPEAL? "Yes, we filed the appeal. Mike Kerr is in the garage area, so I'm sure they've accepted our appeal, and accepted appeal request to allow him to be on the box this weekend."
WHEN WILL IT BE HEARD? "Basically, they got our Fed-X package to them on Thursday, yesterday, and I'm going to expect with the testing and the schedule we're all on right now, there's a lot of us on a west coast schedule through the Phoenix test--I don't know when because I don't make the rules, but the only time I can see it happening is the Wednesday before Atlanta or Monday or Tuesday after Atlanta. We're in the meat of the season here where we have guys flying back and forth and we've got schedules and stuff like that. One thing that they did say is they would work with everybody involved. It's not just one person that has to be there; it's a whole group of us. My opinion, after Atlanta works the best but even Wednesday before Atlanta works fine."
SO FRANK (KERR) STAYS WITH THE CAR UNTIL THE APPEAL IS HEARD:. "Yes and I believe the way it's written, the points go back until the appeal is heard too. Basically, I'm charged for a crime, I'm not convicted of a crime. I believe we have to go through their internal court hearing, whatever they want to call it, I'm not sure what NASCAR uses for a term here, but they get with their three board members and we present our case and they present their case and we see what happens. I've never been to court before, so I wouldn't even know what that's like. This is going to be interesting.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST IMPACT? "Perception. Perception. Being labeled as a cheater where we have not cheated. Where the problem comes into play is with sponsors. When you start impacting our sponsorship opportunities, you start getting into the root of the real situation here and we're in trouble for something we didn't do."
IF THIS STICKS, IS THERE A CHANCE YOU WILL SIT OUT ANY PART OF THE SEASON? "If this sticks, I don't know what our plan will be. I'll be honest with you--I think open wheel got back together last week and I know I can drive one of those cars."
-credit: dodge motorsports